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Cooling Systems -- Problems & Solutions (Radiator, Fan, etc)



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I was concerned that he was operating with an old radiator and that these pressures would not be sustainable as they would in a modern car's system. Also, it seems like this is his regular driver not a toy car for him, so I was thinking he should build in as much "slack" as he could engineer.
  • I have a 2000 Intrepid R/T with 67,000 miles. I've owned the car since new, and tonight was the first time I ever heard a boiling/bubbling sound from the coolant overflow bottle. From my limited knowledge of how the overflow system works, is that an indication that the system is ingesting air from somewhere, and then dispells it into the overflow bottle as the engine cools?

    I just had the transmission replaced about a month ago, and I know the car has a transmission cooler, so I don't know if that has an impact or not.

    I've about had it wit this car, so nothing would surprise me.
  • Thanks to all for the info! I had a good look over the truck tonight and the bottom air defector is missing. THe A/C hoses and trans coolermsut have prevented the builder from putting it back in. The rad is a re cored 3 row from a 6 cylinder as the the top out let is in the center and the bottom is on the passenger this correct? It is clear as I had a good look afte the flush and the tubes all appear clear at least on the tops. The 3 holes in the thremostat have made the temp rise very slowly now but at 65+ the truck starts to hit 195+ and I assume this is due to the air passing under the rad verses thur it. THere is a good size gap under the rad and a huge amount of air must be just flying by. I'm going to have to fab someto cover this larrge gap. On the gauge, I called the original builder today (found him on the net) and he stated the truck ran cool (still don't see how) and that it would spike to 220 before the thermostat let go (he stated he changed it 4 times with the same results and I did it twice with same reaction) and settle at 180 on the highway at 55. Still not sure where to start but I think switching to a shroud and a larger direct drive fan, along with a lower air defector is my way ahead. If anyone knows where I can find a used shroud please let me know. Many thanks Bill
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Actually, although it sounds weird, you can cause problems by having too MUCH coolant flowing TOO fast through your cooling system. The hot coolant needs to remain in the radiator long enough for heat exchange to take place and, as you say, enough air circulation needs to be trapped around the radiator as well.
  • Hi, sorry for the bother but tonight I noticed white smoke coming out of the hood of 1995 Toyota Camry. Upon popping the hood, it seemed that the smoke was coming from the radiator. Also, there was almost no coolant left in the reservoir (which was odd, as I recently took the car in for an oil change and they should have topped off all of the fluids). In any case, I put more coolant in and drove home (~5 min drive). The temperature gauge was in the middle (between hot and cold). I have no idea what is going on. My father-in-law told me not to drive the car until I have it chacked out as I could cause serious damage. Any ideas? Thanks so much (again, my apologies for posting this, its just that I am a bit reaked out...I am a student and can't really afford an expensive repair...its so odd, this car has been mostly problem free...).
  • crankshaftcrankshaft OHIOPosts: 105
    i would bet you have a small leak developing from the radiator.if you closely examine the fins and the seams where the tanks are soldered,you will probably find dampness.
  • On the advice of my father-in-law, I took my car in to Pep Boys. They found a large crack in the radiator tank (which is apparently made of plastic). They want ~$500 to replace the tank, flush the cooling system, and replace the coolant. Despite my father-in-law's assurances, I am having second thoughts re letting someone other than the dealer work on the car (especially since the Pep Boys quote doesn't strike me as being particularly cheap).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You can order them online for about $150-$180 + tax for your car. So figure couple hours labor + coolant, cleanup etc. It's not too too bad a price really. But shop around, you might get it done for $400 or so.
  • crankshaftcrankshaft OHIOPosts: 105
    my car did was the head gasket.hopefully yours isn't.
  • My 1990 MB TE 300 with close to 200,000 miles seems to be overheating. At least the temperature gage so indicates, although I do not lose any water by evaporation or overflow. (No steam).The temoerature gage gets to the maximun limit without going to the red area when I am driving around town but remains normal on the highway. The auxilliary fan seems to be turning on when the temperarature gets close to the red mark. I do not know when or if the radiator has been replaced.
    Any suggestions or pointers.
    Thank you,
    Juan Valera
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Usually low speed overheat and no overheat when at highway speeds indicates some kind of air circulation problem. Your cooling fans may be kicking in too late, or you may have lots of debris covering the front of the radiator.
  • I have a 92 accord, runs great, except today onthe way home (about a 5 minutes drive) as I got home I notice some steam coming from under the hood and smelled coolent. wehn I looked under the hood it appeared that water had gushed out from the radiator cap... I found that odd as the temp gage was right in the middle where it always is. any idea what thats about? IM confused...
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    Could be as simple as the radiator cap aging and not being able to hold the pressure anymore. If the temp is normal, and your not adding coolant on a regular basis due to a leak somewhere, that may be the first place to look. Be aware though that if this is the original radiator then it's quite possible the leak is actually in the radiator and only appears to be around the cap. A pressure test may be in order, it can be difficult to trace leaks when there's only steam.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Also a temperature sensor cannot read "steam". If coolant is low, the sensor is just sniffing hot air in a sense and won't read right.
  • I've just installed a 2002 4.3 V6 in my 1990 S-10 that had a 4.3. After getting the engine running, the passenger side head runs hot. I know this because the sensor for the temp gauge is in the head. Swapped the sensor over to the driver's side and it shows normal. During the engine swap, I replaced the water pump and thermostat (180). Sometimes, revving the engine makes the temperature go back down. Sometimes it doesn't. I'm 100% sure the system is full. I took the cover off of the back of the new pump to verify the impeller was formed properly. Didn't see any indications there. I've hooked up a scanner to the computer and the temp sensor for the computer (top of the intake just before the thermostat) shows it's running at 180 degrees. The engine does not boil over. I've run a bottle of a name brand engine flush through it per the instructions on the bottle. No help -- in fact, the coolant mixture that drained out was very clean so I'm guessing there's no sludge buildup in the block or head. When I had the temp sensor out of the passenger side head, I looked in the hole with a mirror and the head was very clean inside -- at least where I could see.

    I'm wondering if:
    a) I got a bad water pump and, despite the fact that it looks ok, for some reason it's not flowing enough water on the passenger side.
    b) there's sludge or some other blockage in the block or head that I can't see.
    c) there's an air bubble on the passenger side that keeps forming every time I drain and refill the system.

    Any help or insight anyone can provide would be much appreciated.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    It does sound like you need to bleed the system, yes. Is this a new block or a used engine?
  • The engine is out of a 2002 Blazer. I replaced the intake manifold with Edelbrock's 2114. It's a vortec intake with a holley 4bbl pattern. On top of that I put a Holley adapter plate that adapts the 4bbl to the pro-jection (same as my TBI pattern) so I could use my original TBI and distributor rather than try to adapt the fuel injection from the new engine to the old truck. There's no place to bleed the system other than the plugs at the top of the intake and I've done that. I've even jacked the vehicle WAY up in the front with the hopes that the bubble (if there is one) will work its way out of the head. One thing I haven't tried, and may do so tomorrow, is to jack the driver's side of the truck way up to see if I can work it that way.

    Oh, one other thing I did (and I know this was a bit dangerous) was to unscrew the temp gauge sending unit almost all the way while the engine was at operating temp to see if steam would escape past the threads. Nothing but coolant came out.

    Despite that, I'm still leaning toward the possibility of a bubble and here's why. When the engine is cold and I start it up, the gauge rises normally while the engine warms. After the engine gets to operating temp, the gauge still reads normally for a minute or so. Then, all of a sudden, it'll start to rise. Sometimes it'll rise slowly and sometimes it'll rise really quickly. By quickly, I mean it might go nearly all the way to 260 in a matter of 10 seconds or so. And that's at an idle. I wouldn't think the temp would rise that quickly unless there was a pocket of air in there that gets bigger after the engine warms up. That is, if there were a blockage somewhere on that side of the engine and no air pocket, I'd think the temp would rise more slowly.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Boy that's weird. Have you tried another thermostat?
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    No idea if this will help, but let me tell you what I did.

    Thinking I could get a little more AC in the summer, (this motor has a constant coolant flow through the heater core, there is no cutoff), I put an old type screw down cutoff in one of the heater lines on my 1994 4L Ranger pickup.

    You should have seen the screwy temp gauge swings I got with this in place. On a guage that previously never got over about 1/4 or 1/3 guage, after the above change and with the cutoff closed off so no coolant flowed thru the heater core, the guage would climb rapidly to about 3/4 gauge, then drop below its normal postion. Then a minute later, it would go thru this wild swing again. It continued these wild swings as long as you drove at 30-40mph around town. Only if you took it out on the road at high speed would the gauge stablize at it's usual 1/4 postion.

    This was so flacky to me, I just opened up the cutoff, which put the system back like before. The wilds gauge swings stopped when I restored the flow through the heater core.

    What happened? I don't know. Probably something about the flow not going through a bypass mode, so the temp gauge switch was seeing a high temp just before the theromostat opened????

    Do you have part of the original coolant flow shut off or bypassed? And maybe you are seeing something like what I saw on my 4L Ranger?
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Make sure you have the right water pump. Earlier engine applications require a clockwise ratation pump, yours requires a counterclockwise rotating pump. The difference is in the angle of the vanes on the impeller.
  • With cooler weather, I found I had no heat. I checked the coolant overflow and saw it was empty so I refilled it to the proper level, but that didn't help and it ended up empty again. I just got the news from my dealer that my heater core is blocked and he thinks it needs to be replaced. He said the job will take at least 7 hours and priced it at $750. The only other option he offered was to back flush the system and HOPE it clears the block at $175, but he can't guarantee this will clear the problem or it may stay clear for a while and then block up again. What makes me mad is that I just had the system flushed last fall to protect against just this kind of problem. I can't afford the $900 (if I try the back flush and it doesn't work), so I'm looking at driving without heat until I can afford the $750.

    Three questions: 1) Shouldn't there be some kind of guarantee on the system flush that I had before? 2) How do I find a reputable place that could do the repair right and still keep the price at something I can afford? 3) What would be the risks of driving it without replacing the heater core thru 3 or 4 months of cold (Michigan) weather until I can afford the repair?
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    "With cooler weather, I found I had no heat. I checked the coolant overflow and saw it was empty so I refilled it to the proper level, but that didn't help and it ended up empty again"
    That's indicative of a leak in the cooling system. The coolant has to going somewhere. It's possible that the heater core is blocked, which is a different problem. Was a pressure test done on the cooling system?
    $750 for that job at dealer rate sounds about right. It's a big job, removing the dash, etc.
  • Thanks everyone for the posts. I have tried a new thermostat. The water pump I put on it was for the original (1990) engine. I have the original accessories on the new engine, so this setup should work. I wouldn't think there would be anything different about the blocks to make this not work. I even went so far as to take the covers off of the 2002 water pump and the 1990 water pump and checked the vanes -- same direction. I'm getting good flow through the heater core as the air from the vents gets and stays nice and hot when the engine warms up and the fan is on max. I've tried blocking one of the heater hoses and it didn't make any difference. I'm not sure what else to try except to try the old 1990 water pump on the new engine. If that doesn't work, I'll be 99% convinced that there's some kind of blockage on the passenger side of the block or head. If I get to that point, I'll take the intake off and see what I can see.

    If anyone has any additional ideas, I'd be glad to hear 'em.

    Again, thanks to everyone who has posted.

  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    This is deeper into mechanicing than I get, but if the intake and/or heads were off - what about the wrong gasket being put back on it? Blocking water flow holds in one head?
  • I'm pretty sure I have the right gasket set. There are alignment holes in the vortec heads for these gaskets and the dowels in the gaskets lined up the gaskets perfectly. I don't remember one of them having a block off on one of the front water outlet holes, but I'll certainly double check that if I take the intake off.


  • Hello Everyone,

    I own a 95 Mazda millenia. I have recently been having problems with my radiator fan not turning on. This results in my thermostat giving a high reading and the the radiator coolant leaking out of the overflow shaft since its practically boiling. At first I thought that my radiator fan had burnt out, but I have noticed that when I turn my air conditioner on the radiator fan also kicks in. And the car does not overheat as long as the airconditioner is left on. So the fan is fine, but can't figure out the real problem. Could it be an electrical problem? I have also checked the main fuse box and all of them look fine. I would really appreciate all the help from anyone on this forum.


  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    The temp sensor to control the fan, the fan relay if different from the one that the operates when the A/C is turned on, or possibly the PCM if so equipped. Could also be something so mundane as a loose or poor electrical contact. You'll probably need a wiring diagram to figure it out.
  • Hey guys.. been a year issue... with me filling up my radiator everytime it begins to overheat. Its gotten real close sometimes where I thought my engine was gonna blow but luckily (Thank God) it didnt.

    Anyways.. Got a new radiator and received it in the mail yesterday. M problem is having a guide or help to replace on my own. Wondering if anyone who has done it or has help for me can point me in the right direction.

    I have a 95 Acura Integra LS ... if you need anymore info please post..

    thanks so much
  • avemanaveman Posts: 122
    Here is a link that seems to have decent info on cooling systems.Most of this stuff falls into line with what Mr. Shiftright is talking abought. f.pdf
  • I am having to replace my radiator every 4 months. I have replaced about six and they all go about the same time. It is a 1998 ford expedition with about 300,000 miles on it. yes I have put them all on it. The radiator is leaking at the fins and the weld joint down the passenger side near the return hose. I have tried a baking soda wash thinking it was eletrolasis. it doesn't blow hoses or the plastic tanks. its not rubbing on anything. the truck does not overheat when the radiator is not leaking. any help would be great.
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316

    You are not running straight water are you? You need antifreeze for chemical protection.

    Is the radiator secure? Meaning, you didn't take out the rubber insulators the radiator sets on? If it is flopping around, the vibration could be breaking the welds.

    Are all radiators the same make? If so, you might be getting the string of badly made Ford Expedition radiators some company incorrectly built.

    Other than these wild zzz guesses, I'm also interested in someone elses' possible solution.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    I have a 1997 Windstar with the 3.8 L engine, it has about 95,000 miles on it. Timing cover gasket and intake gasket are leaking.

    I was planning to put off repairing this as long as leak was only external...which I thought it was. But I have just discovered that it actually seems to be leaking coolant into the oil. Every time I drive now the coolant level goes down a little and it seems that the oil level is rising also. I actually think this problem may have been happening for about a year...I had noticed the oil level was really high last fall, but thought someone had over-filled the oil.

    The oil on the dipstick looks normal, but yesterday took off the oil fill cap and there is what appears to be oil/water slurry on the bottom of the cap and on the sides of the opening that the cap goes in.

    I don't really need to use this car much for the next six months or so, it is temporarily an extra vehicle for us.

    Has this leak likely already caused permanent damage? The best price I have found for the repair is about $ I don't want to do it if it is too late. I'm also concerned that after fixing this some other crappy ford gasket, such as the head gasket, will leak.

    Is there anything I can do to safely put off the repair? I'd been driving the car once every week or two, as I thought that was better than just letting it sit for six months...but that was before I knew about the internal leaking.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Very strange indeed...

    I do know there are some cheaply made aftermarket radiators out there and maybe as someone else suggested, they made an especially bad batch.

    I know radiatior shops are pretty much a thing of the past but there are still some out there. You might want to check with one of those guys since this is ALL thy work on.

    300,000 miles!! WOW!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Sounds like typical overseas junk parts (not all overseas parts are junk, but the ones that are, REALLY are).

    You might consider an aftermarket radiator of higher quality, such as used for heavy duty towing or racing.
  • I am running prestone and water.

    The radiator is mounted in it's rubber mounts and is secure, no rubbing.

    I was getting them from a friend at a parts wholesaler but they stopped replacing them so the last one came from ford and the same thing happened in the same time.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Can't imagine anything short of defective manufacture or the radiator literally bursting from overheating. Does it always leak in the same place?
  • always around the same area.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Follow-up on post #188...

    Will leaving the radiator cap loose possibly reduce the leakage from my failing timing cover and gaskets? I was thinking that with the cap loose, there will not be pressure in the cooling system and less water/coolant will get forced into the engine.

    Does this make sense? Will it cause any problems on short trips in cooler weather...I only drive 9 miles to work and am in Wisconsin.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well that works both ways...yes, you have less pressure but without pressure you lower the boiling point of the as you lose coolant, you will boil over faster (at a lower temperature) than if it was under pressure. This solution would be "cripple mode" at best for you.
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    Thanks for confirming my thinking on this. Since it is an extra car for now, I am just looking to delay making a decision on what to do about it.
  • :) have prestone radiator cleaner and backflush kit. Is this product effective? Prestone directions indicate draining radiator and putting water and 1 liter of the cleaner and driving for 3 to 6 hrs over 2 day period. The nite temperature is now between 20 and 30 fah. Will the mixture of water and cleaner prevent the block from freezing? I am not going to drain engine block but backflush. Thank you.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Don't know, you'd have to read the bottle but generally it takes quite a long time to freeze and crack a if you had the mixutre in just a few hours I don't think anything could happen....but overnight, well, I might not risk it.

    Over the counter flushes can only do so much. If there is heavy scale or clogging in the radiator I don't think flushing is going to get it out, but light scum or rust film, yeah, it might help.

    just flushing the old coolant out helps on its own.
  • Hi all,
    I have a 2000 chevy cavalier. Engine temp. starts to climb while stuck in traffic. cooling fan doesn't come on unless I switch the ac on. Any suggestion how to fix the problem.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Sounds like the temperature sensor for the cooling fan, or the fan relay, is defective and should be tested to see which one. The AC switch over-rides the temperature sensor since you need the cooling fan on when the AC is on.
  • After a body shop repair, when I picked up my vehicle it over heated just enough to activate the hot engine light. It did not boil over. The light came on about four miles away from the shop as I slowed down pulling in to a parking lot. I went back on to the hi-way and the vehicle cooled down as I increased speed. I immediately took the vehicle back to body shop where they added coolant. They had failed to fill it properly.
    Five months later I started having lifter noise in the engine. I added some Resoline to the oil and the noise got better. At the next oil change I added Resoline again. Everything was fine for another four months. Then the lifter noise came back and I started having coolant leaks around the heads. I had wrapped heads and bad head gaskets. I want to think this problem was caused from the vehicle over heating. But the body shop and insurance company say I would have had engine problems sooner if it was related to the over heating when picked up from the body shop. What do you guys think?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Could go either way but no way to prove anything. I think every overheat shortens an engines life somewhat. Any answer depends on the type of car and the mileage on it too which we don't know.
  • It is a 2002 Buick Rendezvous.
    38,964 miles at time of body shop repair.
    47,427 miles when lifter noise started. Probably coolant mixing with oil.
    51,631 miles when gaskets completely failed and I had engine repaired.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Seems rather premature for a head gasket issue but again, with the length of time between the overheat and the actual head gasket failure, you have a tough case to prove.

    Are they possibly related? Sure, it's possible. Is it probable and likely? I'd say no. Which is a fancy way of saying I don't know for sure.

    If you had small but persistent coolant disappearance during that time frame, that would be an interesting bit of evidence.
  • As far as a leak I never really noticed coolant disappearing or gaining anything in the oil. But I have added 1 gal. of dex-cool to this vehicle over the time I have owned it since 02. I do not remember how much was added over the past 9 months. I just have a empty jug in garage. Thanks for your opinion.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    A head gasket leak doesn't have to show water in the oil BTW. It could all get burned up.
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